After Hurricane Ian, Florida National Parks Reopen With Restrictions
Hikers can now visit the Sunshine State's national parks and preserves, but some are still reeling from the storm.
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Last week, Hurricane Ian washed away highways, leveled houses, and took at least 100 lives while sweeping across the south. The National Park System wasn’t immune to the damage, either. While Florida continues to tally the wreckage, the National Park Service issued a statement about the status of Florida’s national parks and preserves.
Visitors to Florida’s national parks and preserves should expect to see downed trees, debris, damaged infrastructure, and other potential obstacles. Marine waters are currently open in all locations. The gulf coast, wilderness camping, and campgrounds within national parks and preserves are closed until further notice. And, here’s the status of the parks, themselves:
Biscayne National Park: Open
Although Biscayne National Park experienced heavy rain and wind during the hurricane, the bulk of the storm missed the park, leaving it relatively unscathed. The park is currently open for normal operations. Visitors will have access to the following amenities:
- Convoy Point Grounds
- Dante Fascell Visitor Center
- Park headquarters
- Biscayne National Park Institute tours
- Florida National Parks Association bookstore
Everglades National Park: Partially Reopened
Officials in Everglades National Park have been working diligently to clear the park’s hurricane wreckage, and those efforts are starting to pay off. As of Monday morning, the park reopened the Flamingo District and the remainder of Main Park Road to visitors, according to a Facebook post. The Shark Valley entrance opened at 8:30 a.m., and Airboat tour operators along the Tamiami Trail will continue standard tours.
Still, visitors should keep in mind that the park is actively cleaning up debris and fallen trees. Some trails have been washed out by the hurricane, and it could be a while before the park makes a full recovery.
Wilderness and frontcountry camping remain closed. Some park amenities may be temporarily unavailable. Park officials encourage visitors to check directly with park concession businesses to confirm that they’re open. The Gulf Coast District in Everglades City sustained the most damage and is likely to remain closed.
Dry Tortugas National Park: Partially Reopened
Hurricane Ian directly hit Dry Tortugas National Park, initially prompting its complete closure. The bulk of the hurricane damage was done to the Garden Key coastal area, where the docks sustained a substantial amount of damage. As of Monday, the park is partially open again. Seaplane tours are available to the public, but the docks on Loggerhead and Garden keys will remain closed until Thursday, October 6 or later.
Big Cypress National Preserve: Partially Reopened
Due to a number of identified hazards within the preserve, Big Cypress was originally closed to the public. But, as of today, the park is open with one exception: Bear Island Campground, which experienced a tremendous amount of flooding, forcing its closure until further notice.
The park service warns that damage to these historical locations hasn’t yet been entirely assessed. Those who choose to visit Florida parks should exercise extreme caution due to unidentified risks. Consider calling ahead or and checking local websites for their post-hurricane status.